Citrus industry hit hard by Hurricane Irma

Citrus Grower Bob Rodamer surveys an orange that was split open while still hanging on the tree. He says it appears the tree got too much water during and after Hurricane Irma.

"Orange trees don't like their feet wet," he said.

Impacts from the hurricane are also being blamed for the closure of a long time citrus store in North Merritt Island. Policicchio Groves, which opened on North Courtenay Parkway in 1920, announced they are closing permanently because of "substantial damage" from Hurricane Irma.  Harvey Groves, another large grower, also announced the closure of two storefronts, but the owner blamed it on personal health reasons.

Rodamer, who has a small four acre grove, says it is harder ever to be a citrus grower in Merritt Island. He says growers have already been suffering losses from the disease "citrus greening", and he says new housing developments are impacting the old citrus drainage ditching put in nearly a century ago.

"A lot of that ditching is getting closed up, so the water is not flowing the way it used to," said Rodamer.

The two growers aren't completely getting out of the business. In online letters to customers posted on their respective websites, both Harvey Groves and Policicchio Groves said when citrus is available, they are going to continue taking orders on their websites and over the telephone.